Lymphoma and the Insipid Victory – J.W. Ocker – The Atlantic

While this account of treatment is very familiar – the predictability of the chemo cycle, the side effects, the importance of family and friends – the author is disappointed at the lack of ‘revelation’, of becoming a better person, given that Hodgkin’s lymphoma is largely curable, in contrast to more aggressive lymphomas. Quote:

The one thing I thought I’d salvage from my cancer ordeal was a new attitude. Like anybody else, I’d heard plenty of talks and read plenty of articles from cancer survivors extoling platitudes about gratefulness and seizing days and reevaluating priorities. It’s supposed to be revelatory. It turned out my particular cancer was more miserly than that.

I’m not a better person for having endured it, nor do I have better insight into the value of life — and I blame medical science for that.

I am a bit surprised, because cancer, heart attacks and the like, whether treatable or curable, usually do focus the mind on the contingency of life, and how precious it is, and make one focus on what is important. The particularities of the disease matter less than the wake-up call. However, we all react differently.

One other point I found interesting, is the automatic bone marrow biopsy and installing of a built-in port. Less automatic in Canada (with mantle cell lymphoma, the bone marrow biopsy doesn’t give any more information than other tests), and PICC and Hickman lines are more generally used unless one is in a long-term care situation.

Lymphoma and the Insipid Victory – J.W. Ocker – The Atlantic.


2 thoughts on “Lymphoma and the Insipid Victory – J.W. Ocker – The Atlantic

  1. It’s an interesting and well-written piece. As always, it tends to oversimplify and overgeneralize cancer (all Hodgkin’s Lymphoma good; all NHL bad) and its treatment.
    I’m also surprised, and then again, not surprised, by his attitude that it wasn’t really a lethal cancer. Yes, 81% 10-year survival rate is great, except if you’re one of the 19%. And I say that recognizing statistics are always misleading but still…

    • Agree. I was told with my MCL that R Hyper CVAD had an 80% success rate (3-5 years before remission) but I was in the 20%, remission in about a year or so.

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